Download This Sample
This sample is exclusively for KidsKonnect members!
To download this worksheet, click the button below to signup for free (it only takes a minute) and you'll be brought right back to this page to start the download!
Sign Me Up
Table of Contents
River dolphins are a little different from the marine dolphins that we’re all familiar with. They look quite similar to marine dolphins because their ancestors lived in the oceans too. However, this species of dolphin have successfully adapted to their habitat after which they are named, rivers.
See the fact file below for more information on River Dolphins or alternatively, you can download our 27-page River Dolphins worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Although these mammals share bodily similarities with marine dolphins, they are not closely related to them. They have already been separated geographically and have evolved as their own independent species for probably millions of years.
- River dolphins are typically known for their pink color. Unlike marine dolphins, pink dolphins have long beaks and rounded foreheads.
- River dolphins can weigh up to 450 lbs in weight and measure 8ft long.
Habitat and Distribution
- Based on their name, where do you think these dolphins can be found? That’s right, rivers! These mammals can survive in the freshwaters of the river (unlike other dolphins that are saltwater animals). They prefer brackish, meaning somewhat salty, and coastal environments.
- Some examples of rivers that these species inhabit are the Amazon, Ganges, Yangtze, Mekong, and Indus Rivers.
- These rivers are commonly found to have dark and murky water. These are indicators that the river may be polluted. This is quite an unusual kind of habitat for an animal to live in. Pollution often sends animals away from their natural habitats. There is actually no scientific explanation for why these dolphins are able to thrive in such environments. Further study and research must be done to come up with a definite answer.
Types of Subspecies
Indus River Dolphin
- Indus River Dolphins get their name from the fact they are found in the Indus River in Pakistan. They can only survive in freshwater sources. These dolphins are blind so they use echolocation to create an image in their mind of what their surroundings may look like.
Ganges River Dolphin
- The Ganges river dolphin is typically found on the coasts of India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. When they are born, their babies or calves are a chocolate-brown color. Eventually, they develop grey-brown skin as they grow older. Can you imagine a little chocolate-colored dolphin? Like the Indus river dolphin, they are blind so they use echolocation to create an image in their mind of what their surroundings may look like.
Amazon River Dolphin
- Amazon river dolphins are also known as pink dolphins. The brighter the pink, the more attractive they are to other dolphins. They are mostly found on the coast of South American countries like Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, and Peru.
Bolivian River Dolphin
- Bolivian river dolphins are closely related to Amazon river dolphins, although slightly smaller. They can also be found in the Amazon River in South America, specifically in Bolivia.
- Irrawaddy Dolphins are most dominant in South Asia near Myanmar and Indonesia. They are critically endangered, and lessening in number by the year.
Yangtze Finless Porpoise
- These dolphins are the only mammals living in the Yangtze River. Unlike most dolphins, they have no dorsal/top fin. They are usually seen alone, in pairs, or in small groups.
Diet and Behavior
- The diet of river dolphins consists of freshwater fish, lobsters, shrimp, and crabs.
- A common characteristic that these dolphins have with other species is that they are very social animals. They manifest this characteristic by forming pods, or a group of dolphins.
- Dolphins get very close to one another, forming strong bonds. They value protecting one another, especially their young. This is demonstrated when they swim; the babies are found in the middle of the pod to keep them safe. Studies have shown that the different mother dolphins take care of each other’s young.
- River dolphins are theorized to have a complex hierarchy that is still quite hard to comprehend. This can be observed as some pods are mostly females while others are mostly males. This can give us a very vague look at their social organization.
- Female river dolphins reproduce every two to four years. They usually start mating after their gestation period starts. Mother dolphins carry their offspring for nine to twelve months. Calves are born in the spring and summer months when river water is at its highest.
- Male river dolphins start mating at seven years of age. They attract females by beating the water with branches, grass, or live turtles. They mate with multiple female dolphins a year.
Conservation Status and Threats
- There are only five species of river dolphins left around the world, but they are all tagged as endangered or critically endangered species.
- Why have their numbers dwindled so much in the past years? One threat to their population is pollution, as dolphins cannot thrive in environments that are too intoxicated with contaminants. Further threats are dams, shipping, and bycatch.
- Sometimes river dolphins get caught up in other fishing projects even though they were not intended to be caught. This is called bycatch. This is also a threat to their population as it happens often and modern fishing strategies pose a risk to them.
Saving the Dolphins
- The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is a non-government organization and a leading organization in wildlife conservation and endangered species. They have an initiative to help stop the extinction of the river dolphin called the WWF’s River Dolphin Rivers Initiative.
- Their goal is to stop the decline of river dolphin populations in Asia and South America by 2030. They also hope to restore some populations as well as double other populations.
- They plan to focus on three major systemic threats to the river dolphins: unsustainable fisheries, hydropower and infrastructure, and pollution.
- Spreading awareness is one way to get people to notice the cause. Not a lot of people know about the existence of river dolphins! Awareness campaigns can help teach people and governments about the species and how urgent it is to attend to their situation and save them.
Importance of Dolphins
- It’s no surprise that every living creature plays an important role in the bigger picture of the ecosystem. You can tell if a river is healthy if you can see river dolphins living in it. From there, you can tell that that river is also capable of supporting the people that benefit from it, through irrigation, livelihood, transportation, etc.
- River dolphins will only thrive in a healthy and clean environment. We share this world with them, so if they are able to flourish, then we can too. We depend on river dolphins to support our communities. Apart from us, other organisms and species are also linked to and dependent on river dolphins as well.
River Dolphins Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about River Dolphins across 27 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use River Dolphins that still bear resemblance to their ocean-dwelling ancestors but have successfully adapted to their habitat after which they are named, rivers.
Complete List of Included Worksheets
- River Dolphins Fact File
- Dolphin Description
- Habitat Search
- Comic Strip
- Letter for Help
- Super Subspecies
- Conservation Effort
- Dolphin Dinner
- RD Reproduction
- Animal Awareness
- Dolphin Wordsearch
Frequently Asked Questions
Are river dolphins friendly?
A common characteristic that these dolphins have with other species is that they are very social animals. They manifest this characteristic by forming pods, or a group of dolphins.
Where do river dolphins live?
These rivers are commonly found to have dark and murky water. These are indicators that the river may be polluted. This is quite an unusual kind of habitat for an animal to live in. Pollution often sends animals away from their natural habitats. There is actually no scientific explanation for why these dolphins are able to thrive in such environments. Further study and research must be done to come up with a definite answer.
What do river dolphins eat?
The diet of river dolphins consists of freshwater fish, lobsters, shrimp, and crabs.
Link/cite this page
If you reference any of the content on this page on your own website, please use the code below to cite this page as the original source.
Link will appear as River Dolphins Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, June 15, 2022
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.